NDP leader Cam Broten took aim at Lean during a campaign stop in Saskatoon on Thursday.
The Lean program was brought in by the Sask. Party government beginning in 2008, as a measure aimed at cutting healthcare costs. Lean is a management system based on methods developed in Toyota’s vehicle-assembly plants.
Broten said the approach has led to millions of dollars spent on high-priced foreign consultants. He noted that in some cases, documents show as much as $3600 per day spent to bring in consultants from Japan. He said those consultants held workshops for healthcare workers laden with obscure Japanese terminology and bizarre activities, such as making paper airplanes.
Broten also accused Lean of driving down healthcare workers’ morale by nitpicking obscure details.
“When I speak with healthcare workers, they say: ‘I don’t need someone with a stopwatch following me around seeing how long it takes for me to walk from my desk to a patient bed, or whatever the case may be, I need more people working on my shift,” he said.
Lastly, Broten cited a study on Lean conducted by the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Public Health.
“The Sask. Party has spent $1511 on its Lean program for every $1 it claims it saved,” he said.
Broten pledged to get rid of the Lean program if elected, and to eliminate just under 100 positions devoted to promoting it in favour of more frontline healthcare workers.
Sask. Party candidate for Weyburn-Big Muddy Dustin Duncan responded to Broten’s claims. He said the U of S study quoted by Broten was based on incomplete data. He said the ratio of $1511 spent-to-$1 saved didn’t make sense.
“That would have seen Saskatchewan spending hundreds of billions of dollars in healthcare over the last number of years. The numbers themselves just don’t add up,” he said.
Duncan went on to criticize the NDP’s track record from when they were in power.
“The last time an NDP government cut healthcare waste, it turned out they found the waste in 52 hospitals across rural Saskatchewan, the Plains Hospital in Regina and they fired nurses and doctors across Saskatchewan,” he said.